The acronym L.A.B. stands for "Land of Ass Backward". If you've ever been to Utah for any period of time (longer than a month), you understand what I'm talking about. Let's just say that the brain-washing that went on in the "Branch Davidian" and the "Heaven's Gate" cults is a joke compared to what's going on in this state. "Seperation of Church and State" is completely foreign to the politicians, lawmakers, and residents of this pathetic excuse for real-estate. It is by far the worst place on planet earth (In my humble opinion). My hatred for Utah runs so deeply that I made a solemn vow to never set foot in that state ever again, no matter what.
However, since I it was necessary for me to reside there temporarily, I tried to make the best of it. I did that by spending as much time as possible playing with (modifying) my "Toys"....A '93 300ZX Twin-Turbo, a '96 Cobra and a '00 Camaro SS. When I wasn't wrenching on them I was racing them (both at the Track and on the Street). As much as I despised Utah, I was very fortunate to meet some really cool people (from other states), that were as much into Cars/Racing as I was. With help and support from my Wife (now my EX-wife), and my buds (They know who they are)...I was able to survive the Hellish experience known as "Utah".
After 2 years of Torture and frustration, the "powers that be" felt that I had been punished enough, and gave me an opportunity to move back East (HELL YEAH!!). The day I found out, was one of the happiest days of my life!!! I was extremely excited to get back to green grass, trees, and water! (Don't laugh...you don't know what you've got until you're stuck in Utah with NONE of that!) Living @ Sealevel is an added bonus. Racing in Utah (5100 ft. above) was a humbling experience to say the least. Now I'm back in good air, with lots of local tracks. Ahhh...Does it get any better than that???
Now I'm back on the "right" side of the Mississippi River, and life is exponentially better!! Yes, the traffic, the people, the crime and the cost of housing in the DC area SUCKS, but I'll take that over Utah (and it's whacked-out people) ANYDAY.
How the SS came into my Life:
One Friday evening, a couple of summers ago, my wife and I decided to hop into my 96 Cobra and head out for "a night on the town" (in Utah that means an early dinner, renting a movie and going to bed by 10 pm). After attempting to eat at several local restaraunts, we determined that no matter where we tried, there was going to be at least an hour long wait. For me that just wasn't acceptable. To say that I'm "impatient" is like saying that former President Clinton is "somewhat fond of interns." One thing I DON'T do is WAIT to spend good money on average tasting food. So my wife and I decided to go kill some time, and then return to the restaraunt when the crowds had subsided. To waste an hour we decided to do my favorite thing in the whole world...cruise car lots looking for used 5.0 Mustangs. I wanted one for a "project car".
First let me say that in the other 49 states (ok, maybe not Alaska) 5.0 Mustangs are easily found on every corner lot, but not in backwards Utah. If the vehicle can't carry 3 wives and 14 children, then it serves no purpose to residents of Utah. Obviously older 5.0's are not "bigomist friendly", therefore not readily available here. However, I'm not one to be easily deterred once my mind is made up, and my mind was set on finding a 'Stang to build. There was something in the air that fateful evening....I knew I would find "the one".
So...after hitting the most popular local "Lemon Lots" and coming up dry, I decided to cruise thru the local Chevy dealership, thinking that maybe someone had gotten married and traded their 5.0 in for a BMW..."Bigass Mormon Wagon" aka Chevy Suburban. Upon entering the sales lot it was apparent that no Stang was to be had there. Nothing but "BMW's" and ugly oversized Camaros. Upon closer inspection I noticed that there were several Camaro SS's. I didn't dislike the looks of the SS nearly as much as the stock, "door-wedge" looking Z-28's. Still nowhere near as attractive as my Cobra, but somewhat appealing nonetheless. As soon as my Cobra came to a complete stop a salesman came running up my car. Immediately he begins to compliment me on the Cobra (Typical salesman B.S., I was used to it.) He introduces himself as...I swear this is true..."John Wayne". I immediately liked the guy (a rare occurance concerning car salesman). He proceded to produce a set of keys for the SS.....
Before I had even asked the first question, he tossed them to me and told me to go for a spin. I looked at my watch and realized that we had only wasted 30 minutes....still had about 30 more before heading back to the restaraunt. I told my wife to hop in, "we're going for a quick spin".
Upon hitting the ignition I was somewhat disappointed in the subdued exhaust note. Nowhere near the muscular sound of the Cobra's H-pipe/Flowmaster combo. After hearing the familiar LT1 exhaust note for years, I really expected more from this "LS1". No matter, I wasn't gonna buy it anyway...I was just killing time.
I gently pulled out of the lot and made my way a 1/2 mile or so to the interstate. Evening traffic prevented me from getting past 2nd gear, so I still hadn't opened Pandora's Box yet. Once I arrived at the on-ramp I finally caught a break in traffic...the time had come...I wanted to see if the LS1 was what it was cracked up to be....
Going from 1st gear roll, travelling up the ramp, with my foot on the gas, I decided to shove my foot thru the firewall. The SS heard my request, and gave one hell'uva reply! Before I could warn my wife to "hang on"....it was too late. I had just strapped both of us on to Fire breathing bucking Bronco! All that could be done now was, ride out the storm!....Now let me interrupt for a moment. Please understand, that I have owned MANY fast cars since the wonderful state of N.C. agreed to grant me a license to speed, errr...I mean DRIVE. I've owned several Mod'd Mustangs, a slightly mod'd 95 Camaro, and a highly mod'd 300ZX Twin-Turbo. I am very comfortable with speed and power, therefore it takes more than most "stock" cars offer, to impress me. That being said, I'll continue....
By the time my actions had time to travel thru my nerve centers, and register in my brain. I found myself, sideways midway up the on ramp. Under normal circumstances a SANE driver would've lifted his right foot from the "evil pedal" and thrust it upon the life giving, Brake pedal...However, I found myself giggling with a demented sense of delight. Despite the white knuckle grip my wife had on the door handle, she too became overcome with the horsepower induced adrenaline rush.
Due to legal ramifications and risk of self incrimination, details from the rest of the "test-drive" will remain undisclosed (Hey...some of you may be Cops!). I will let your imaginations fill in the rest of the story....I'm sure each of you have your own personal LS1 "test drive" experiences and can accurately surmise the remaining details.
Upon returning to the dealership, I immediately wiped all of signs of enjoyment from my face. (NEVER let a Salesman see you smile...they know they've got you when it happens). John Wayne saddled up to me as my wife and I exited the car. He had the six-guns blasting and he wanted to make this pilgrim a deal...
TO BE CONTINUED...